TWO MINUTES' TRAFFIC: Mary Stuart, Folger Theatre

Welcome to a new feature at Two Hours' Traffic!  On these Two Minutes' Traffic posts, we have an opportunity to write quick reviews of the shows we catch that otherwise might not be covered on the blog. Enjoy!

Mary Stuart 

adapted by Peter Oswald, directed by Richard Clifford, Folger Theatre

If I really wanted to start TMT off with a bang, I could review this show in two very short sentences: Kate Eastwood Norris. Holly Twyford.


Need more? Mary Stuart is a feast for these two actresses, and in the hands of Clifford, the 400+ year-old power struggle between two rulers becomes a gripping and delicately wrought portrait of two intensely human women.  Norris is fierce and charismatic as the imprisoned Mary Stuart, inspirational and aspirational.  Watch Twyford's face in her first scene for a masterclass in subtlety, as her closest supporters swarm around her with misogynistic micro-aggressions.  I was struck again and again by this undercurrent of the play, as Elizabeth is forced into action against her cousin, increasingly desperate to cement her rule.  Women cannot be trusted.  Women are not able.  And if one is, she must become your own enemy by striking against her very womanhood.  Elizabeth is skillfully manipulated into believing that not only must she prove herself more beautiful and desirable, this can only be accomplished by tearing down her competition.  It's an all-too familiar notion, internalized misogyny writ large on the political stage with disastrous consequences.

Clifford's direction is sure handed, and his cast is wonderful. Cody Nickell is superb as the Earl of Leceister, and Paul-Emile Cendron does very good work as an impassioned supporter of Mary.  Tony Cisek's set is a treasure, dark and stifling, blindingly rich, or suddenly, briefly filled with light and air.

Don't miss Mary Stuart.  Norris and Twyford are a match made in theatrical heaven, and Clifford's production surrounds and supports them in all the right ways.  Highly recommended.


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